Branding is your organization’s fingerprint. It is unique to your business and helps you stand out in a crowded market. Successful branding encompasses both tangible and intangible characteristics.
According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), a company’s brand unites a “set of physical attributes of a product or service, together with the beliefs and expectations surrounding it. It is a unique combination which the name or logo of the product or service should evoke in the mind of the audience.”
A successful brand is built on a tangible product or service and the less tangible perceptions potential customers have of it. The second part of the definition introduces brand identity. More about that later.
Developing a strong brand is not something you do once and then forget about. Strong brands are usually the result of a long-term brand strategy that starts with well-defined goals and is refined and honed as the business evolves.
Benefits of solid branding
Branding improves recognition, builds trust, supports other marketing activities and increases the value of your business.
A business’s brand is the simplest way for potential customers to identify a company and distinguish it from its competitors. It is the first step in the sales funnel and helps drive new business as well as return business. Recognizing a brand reassures customers that they made a good choice when purchasing a product or subscribing to a service.
The ability to build consumer trust is another huge benefit of successful branding. While consumer loyalty is declining, especially among Gen Z shoppers, branding can help bind your customers to your company.
Switching brands forces customers to take a risk. Buying from a company whose brand is recognized as trustworthy and reliable limits the perceived risk. As a consequence, potential customers will find it easier to choose that brand.
Branding is one of the cornerstones that other marketing activities your business undertakes hinge on. For example, your identity and your brand values form the basis of your advertising messages. The same recognizable values will also be reflected in your social-media marketing. What’s important is that each of those activities is cohesive and allows customers to differentiate your business easily.
Developing a strong brand makes your business more valuable. According to Statista, owners of well-known brands can generate more money than owners of lesser-known brands. Your ability to generate investment is crucial to the development and growth of your company.
Brand values have undergone dramatic changes over the last 12 months. While airline companies were hit badly by the pandemic, the world’s 100 most valuable brands increased their value by 42%. Unsurprisingly, technology brands were at the top of the leaderboard.
With the importance of branding established, it is time to look at how you create a successful brand identity.
Creating a brand identity that is memorable starts with your organization’s values. Colors, designs, logos, straplines and other elements are graphic and written representations of those values. If your business is working with a professional graphic designer, he or she needs to understand your business before translating your unique attributes into a look.
Cohesion and consistency are the keys to impactful branding. Once the elements of your brand identity have been created, they need to inform every piece of marketing activity. Every time a potential customer interacts with your business, he or she should be able to identify the company clearly.
Incorporating your brand identity in your website development, the content published on your blog and your social-media interactions are great starting points.
Many successful brands create a brand manual containing brand guidelines. Far from being overly controlling, this document will become the critical set-in-stone reference for employees and suppliers working with your brand.
Setting guidelines for the use of your brand will help create the recognizable, cohesive image that defines the world’s leading brands.
Branding is a long-term exercise that requires persistence and repetition. For a marketing message to stick, experts believe it must be seen seven times by potential customers. With that in mind, avoid losing opportunities because of inconsistent branding. Don’t expect to be recognized immediately. Consistent messaging takes dedication and hard work, but it will pay off over time.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good story. Most businesses have an interesting background and history. Whether you are a startup founded in a university dorm room or a family business spanning generations, telling your story makes you relatable. It also helps customers remember you and distinguish your organization from its competitors.
As important as your roots are, your brand needs to stay relevant. The most successful brands grow and change with their customers. As your audience’s needs change, your products and services need to adjust if you want to grow and develop with your customers.
Staying current does not necessarily mean giving up on or changing your brand values. However, setting aside time to review and evaluate your brand regularly is important. It will help your business attract and retain customers for decades to come.
Successful branding can make the difference between your business taking off and growing exponentially — or disappearing slowly. While you are best placed to understand your business values, an outside, expert perspective can be invaluable to drive your organization’s growth.